Things are advancing from the days of local storage of 3D models and traditional online 3D repositories. Consider TeamPlatform, an online service dedicated to not only storage of 3D models but also the entire development process for producing 3D models.
The service operates on a subscription basis, where you are provided with an allocation of space within which you can develop 3D models. TeamPlatform handles an astonishing number of different 3D file formats, including "SolidWorks, Pro/Engineer, Siemens NX, CATIA, Autodesk Inventor, IGES, STEP, Parasolid, STL, 3D scan and other popular 3D data files". Even better, this web-based service can display them in a browser with no add-ons required. TeamPlatform is even capable of handling "assemblies" of components where you can "Explode and hide assembly components, take basic-measurements, and save views and hi-resolution screen captures".
This very comprehensive service also includes a wide variety of workflow features, enabling you to collaborate with other developers on a 3D model in the same way that comparable software tools supercharge remote software development. Features include advanced search, notifications, version control, project templates, administration, comments, tasks, schedules, requirements and much more.
But, you ask, how much does all this cost? Well, it depends. If you are a team and require a lot of storage, it will cost you USD$25 per month. On the other hand, if you are an individual and have less than one GB of data, it's totally free!
TeamPlatform's Scott Anderson says:
We think it will really help the printing industry move and share 3D content and 3D files! Our state-of-the-art technology uses WebGL, meaning there's no need for a special installation or plugin to view 3D files. Anyone with a WebGL browser -- Firefox, Chrome, Safari (and IE if you add a plugin) can view 3D files instantly. On top of that, we'll provide views of just about anything. SLDPRT, CATIA, IGES, STEP? Inventor, NX, STL, ProE? We've got it covered. You can even view full 3D assemblies with TeamPlatform (our product).
We believe services such as TeamPlatform should enable the creation of much more complex 3D models due to its collaborative effects. And that can only be good.